A trailer is an introductory short film or video clip that outlines the plot of a film or television show, and is used to build anticipation for its release. Filmmakers use trailers as a marketing tool to generate buzz about their projects, and as a way to garner interest from potential film financiers. Whether you’re making a big budget feature or a low-budget horror film, creating a trailer that entices viewers is no easy feat.

A good trailer reveals only enough of the film to pique curiosity, without giving away any spoilers. This means that you should use visuals from key scenes in your film and select short lines of dialogue from the script to introduce the main characters. For example, if your movie is a crime thriller, you should include moments from key detective scenes and any scenes featuring villains.

One of the most important elements in a trailer is its music, which sets the tone and conveys emotion. Choose a music track that complements the genre of your film. For example, a suspenseful orchestral piece will set the perfect mood for a thriller, while a lighthearted pop song works well with a romantic comedy. You can also add sound effects to liven up scene transitions, and modulate the pacing of your trailer by fading in and out of scenes.

For a more cinematic feel, use a montage to show your film’s most impressive set pieces and action sequences. A montage will help to evoke an emotional response from the viewer and draw them in to your story.

In the past, movie trailers typically relied on a sonorous voiceover to set the tone for their epic action flicks. However, nowadays you’ll need to be more creative to set the mood for your upcoming blockbuster. Try assembling fake news footage into a glitchy, distorted montage and throwing in some words like “epidemic” or “catastrophic.” The Cloverfield crowd will go wild.

To grab the audience’s attention, movie trailers often feature a cast rundown and list of notable actors that star in the film. This is an effective marketing tool that draws in the audience, especially if the film has a high-profile director or producer. The cast rundown is usually placed at the end of the trailer, when the action is building toward a climax. If your movie is a comedy, you can also use a few well-timed F-bombs or misplaced bikinis to grab the audience’s attention. This is especially effective for so-called Red Band trailers, which are permitted to include more explicit sex, violence and language. This enables them to compete with bigger, more mainstream Hollywood comedies.